Some Parents Are Disgusted By A New App For Kids – What Do You Think?

As parents, we’re tasked with raising our children to have a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

But it’s not always easy – we are often fighting against conflicting messages sent by the media, retailers, and our children’s peers.

So it’s little wonder that there are strong opinions on a new program developed for children.

Weight Watchers has been around for decades, and the company recently launched a new take on their old program and adopted a new brand – “WW.”

The company’s aim is to make healthy habits a lifestyle, not a diet.  Nothing wrong with that, and they’ve tried to rid themselves of the idea that their programs are all about “weight” – hence, the name change.

WW’s program has become increasingly tech-based.   Complete a few questions online, download the app, and keep track of your eating and exercise habits online.

But all good intentions aside, WW has made many parents irate with their latest move.

“Kurbo by WW” is a weight-loss and health coaching app developed for their new target demographic – children ages 8 to 17.  It uses a simplistic approach of red, yellow, and green light foods.

WW says it wants to be “a trusted partner” with families in order to help kids make healthy choices, but many see a disaster waiting to happen.

Responses online have been critical, and rightly so.

Although the program was developed with help of pediatricians from Stanford University, parents (and even adults without children) have voiced concerns that the program is dangerous – even “disgusting,” according to one tweet.

Although childhood obesity rates hover around 20 percent of children under 18, eating disorders in kids have also skyrocketed in recent years.

The sexualization of children, especially girls, in the entertainment industry and media has sent kids the message that they have to be thin and beautiful in order to be successful or worthy.

Peer pressure feeds off of this false narrative, making kids who don’t have the “perfect” body feel isolated, with low self-esteem and low confidence.  Children who are overweight are often ridiculed and bullied.

But the concern over Kurbo by WW is valid.  At a time when kids are already glued to cell phones, is WW giving them something else to obsessively check at all times of day?

Children need to learn to have a healthy relationship with food, and this is a responsibility of parents.  Even most pediatricians advise against dieting programs for kids.

In fact, the Journal of Medical Internet Research conducted a study on diet and fitness apps for children and teens, and the results were alarming.

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Healthy eating and fitness mobile apps are designed to promote healthier living. However, for young people, body dissatisfaction is commonplace, and these types of apps can become a source of maladaptive eating and exercise behaviors. Furthermore, such apps are designed to promote continuous engagement, potentially fostering compulsive behaviors.

In the study, nearly half of the child and teen respondents said that they experienced guilt, social isolation, and feelings of failure if they did not achieve their target weight.

Others said they felt “controlled” by the app because they had to constantly enter data and check results – to the point of obsession for some.

One thing everyone agrees on is that it is up to parents to set proper expectations and limits when it comes to food.  When children are introduced to healthy habits early, they are far less likely to develop an issue with food down the line.

And above all, the mind and spirit are just as important as physical health.  When children focus on weight and appearance, the battle is life-long – and no “diet” program can repair the emotional damage.

What do you think of diet and fitness apps like the new Kurbo by WW app for kids?  Leave us your thoughts.